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Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

ON  THE CHANGE  OF REFRANGIBILITY OF LIGHT.          365
the fluid long before it has produced all the effect which it is capable of producing. But that concentration should be an obstacle to the exhibition of the phenomenon is not perhaps what we should have expected, and deserves an attentive consideration.
186. Imagine a given sensitive substance to be held in solution, in a vessel of which the face towards the eye is plane, and the breadth in the direction of vision as great as we please; and suppose the solvent, or at least the fluid used for diluting the solution, to be itself colourless and insensible. Suppose the fluid to be illuminated by light of given intensity and given refran-gibility entering at the face next the eye, and let the eye E from a given position look in the direction of a given point P in the nearer surface of the vessel. In short, let everything be given except the strength of the solution. For the sake of simplicity regard the eye as a point, and make E the vertex of an indefinitely thin conical surface surrounding the line EP. Call this conical surface (7, and let c be the surface within the fluid generated by right lines coinciding with the refracted rays which would be produced by incident rays coinciding with the generating lines of the surface G. This latter surface we may if we please regard as cylindrical, since we shall only be concerned with so much of the fluid contained within it as lies at a distance from P less than that at which the light entering the eye in consequence of internal dispersion ceases to be sensible; and in the cases to which the present investigation is meant to apply this distance is but small compared with PE. Let the fluid within c be divided into elementary portions by planes parallel to the surface of the fluid at P, and at distances from P proportional to the strength of the solution. It is evident that an element of a given rank, reckoned from P, will contain a constant number of sensitive molecules, and the incident light in reaching this element has to pass through a thickness of the medium such that a plate of the same thickness, and having a given area, contains a given number of sensitive or absorbing molecules. The same is true of the dispersed light which proceeds from the element and enters the eye. Now it seems natural to suppose that if the strength of a solution be doubled, trebled, &c., or reduced to one-half, one-third, &c., the quantity of light absorbed will be the same provided the length of the path of the light be